Georg Franz Burkhard Kloss

Georg Franz Burkhard Kloss was born in Frankfurt in 1787, the son of an army surgeon. Kloss studied medicine at the University of Göttingen and graduated in 1809. He settled in Frankfurt and for many years was in charge of the hospital for smallpox and other diseases in the city.

He became an avid collector of books, his chief interest being the acquisition and annotation of incunabula. Kloss sold his library for unknown reasons via Sotheby & Son in London on the 7th of May 1835 and devoted the rest of his life to writing a history of freemasonry, the fraternal society that had its roots in the stonemasons. The sale lasted for 20 days, with remnants of his library being sold in November 1835 and June 1841 respectively (the latter portion of the sale being undertaken by L.A. Lewis).

The sale catalogue for the collection listed 4623 books, most of them printed before 1537. The catalogue, written by Samuel Leigh Sotheby, placed emphasis on the hundreds of annotations he believed to have been made by the humanist Philipp Melanchthon present in the manuscripts and books owned by Kloss. Kloss, however, only associated three of the items in his collection with Melanchthon, and took a strong stand against what he saw as Samuel Leigh Sotheby’s excessive claims.